2019 Quality of Life Questions
These questions were asked by members of the Facebook group Malden (MA) Politics and compiled by Prisco Tammaro.
1. Would you support a plan and provide resources to have Committee of the Whole, Subcommittee and License Board meetings be live streamed and archived for the public?
Debbie DeMaria: Working closely with MATV, I would most certainly support the opportunity for more filming of meetings. I have always supported transparency, as proven by my advocating and sponsoring “Public Comment” at City Council Meetings. This has opened the door for dialog and has given all a voice while embracing the needs of our busy community. I am blown away with the dedication of residents that attend meetings, donating their time and talent to film. I do believe there is a huge need for more. I also support the translation of our meetings in multi-languages as well as for those hearing impaired. I will be sponsoring a Resolve in the near future.
Jerry Leone: Yes, I would support that.
Craig Spadafora: Yes, I would be in favor of all board or organizations that are associated with the city of Malden. Committee meetings is where the bulk of the work is done and are important because some of the most significant topics, fact and issues are discussed in detail. For example, it’s the city’s finance committee that discusses and debates the city’s budget in detail. It’s the city’s ordinance committee that approves or disapproves of new developments, such as a new shop, housing complex, or multifamily on your block. Listening to a City Council meeting you get bits and pieces of the policy, whereas committee meetings will give you that full flavor—the crucial and important details about potential city policies.
Stephen Winslow: The Council has voted to fund many technological improvements as part of the Malden City Hall Project.Once that system is in place we can evaluate the extent new staffing may be necessary to expand live stream and archiving of meetings.
2. What additional steps do you think the City could do to create more transparency in governance?
Debbie DeMaria: At the beginning of this year I worked tirelessly to set guidelines for more transparency of our meetings, both meeting minutes and executive session minutes. It was not an easy task, as never were these released or even asked for. However, it passed unanimously. Last year as Council President, I sponsored a paper requiring minutes to be circulated and approved to committee members at their very next scheduled meeting. The task of typing out minutes was previously worked on over the summer recess, leaving much room for error.
I am happy to see we now approve minutes at the next scheduled appropriate meeting. Change in policy is a dauntingly difficult process, but I am proud to report it does seem to be working much better these days.
BIG thank you to our community for setting this bar high.
Jerry Leone: All increases to any fees including annual water rate increases would be reviewed annually on TV with prior notice. Further all the Chapter 90 money the Mayor receives and how it is spent would be reviewed each year to ensure the public is aware.
Craig Spadafora: Transparency in government is important, and the public has the right to know how and why decisions are being made by our public officials.
Stephen Winslow: Many other communities put together a complete council package that at one location identifies all the papers the Council or subcommittee will be taking up. Just simply easier and quicker to understand agenda items and draft resolution and ordinances this way.
3. Malden River is being redeveloped. How do you suggest we plan to make the banks of the Malden River accessible to the general public?
Debbie DeMaria: Growing up in a beach community, I value and respect the water. Malden River is a diamond in the rough. We finally recognize its value. As Council President, I continued the work of the Malden River sub-committee, even assigning some new members into its composition. Discussion, education, partnerships, passion and funding are what are sorely needed. Many groups are working diligently to address concerns. Malden Arts have done a great job highlighting its beauty with sculptures and displays of art.
Let’s mandate those businesses on the River to take responsibility of their shoreline. We must prioritize more enforcement and encourage ownership. I’d simply love to see a walkway or promenade there. Creating guidelines within an overlay would certainly emphasize what we want there, or don’t want there. I’d support that. Also, the DPW facility needs to be moved to a less desirable location.
Jerry Leone: Make access available by providing a walk way ( or boardwalk) to the river, have available parking, picnic tables, grills and benches.
Craig Spadafora: Did not respond.
Stephen Winslow: I have drafted a wetlands by-law that will strengthen the Conservation Commission’s oversight of the Malden River waterfront. We need to enact a Malden Waterfront Plan backed by ordinances that create setbacks for public access.
4. How many housing units do you think is appropriate for the land at the former Malden Hospital?
Debbie DeMaria: No more than 100.
Jerry Leone: I will pursue the acquisition of Malden Hospital with a combination of the CPA funds, private funds and put the question to the voters of the city once again if they want the city to allow housing development on the hill. The voters overwhelmingly supported the City to attempt to acquire it but nothing of the sort happened in fact. Councilor DeMaria within days of that vote was negotiating behind the scenes with a developer to allow over 300 units up at the site.
Councilor Winslow attempted just a year ago to push that plan to the planning Board. If elected I will fight to provide the citizens to determine exactly what should happen with a ballot question, which should be binding.
Craig Spadafora: 120-140 Maximum. I am strongly opposed to the density and scale of this project of larger project. Anything larger would be completely out of character for our neighborhood. The current road system and infrastructure is already overtaxed.
Stephen Winslow: I am looking forward to the analysis of the BAC / Friends of Fellsmere Heights to understand the scale and types of housing that can readily fit into a community vision for the site. The impact of 55+ units and affordable units may be less than single family homes or market rate apartments but can also require more public and private resources to make financially viable. Some preliminary financial calculations I made indicated that upwards of 170 units may be necessary to have a financially viable development that can serve 55+ and affordable housing needs and reserve most of the land for public use.
5. What can we do to increase the number of trees in the City, and preserve the existing stock we have?
Debbie DeMaria: As Council President, I supported and formed a Forestry Committee. This committee consists of two resident arborists, who have done a great job in just a short year. As their first task, they (along with the administration) created an up-to-date citywide tree inventory. They have held several tree hearings and created clear guidelines. I supported Malden becoming a Tree City USA. This is an honorable distinction that addresses the benefits of preservation. Malden is proudly celebrating three years. There is so much more to do to maintain the beauty of our trees; and I look forward to continuing the work.
Jerry Leone: All trees should be replaced that are cut down except for the ones cut down due to safety reasons. The city should determine if parks and recreation areas can use more; what we have left for trees in are green spaces should be left alone.
Craig Spadafora: I think Malden has made great steps the past five years, but more can certainly be done. I would support a creation of a sustainable fund for the annual purchase and maintenance of trees. I would also support the creation of an ordinance to green many alleyways and used property. This would help improve the aesthetics and increase value along these streets, areas can be targeted to plant trees in adjacent parcels.
Stephen Winslow: I have been serving on the tree committee and supported efforts to preserve more street trees during road and sidewalk reconstruction. We need to continue to seek grants to fund a robust tree inventory in order to create a baseline to work from. We also need to consider adopting an ordinance to limit clear cutting trees during development especially within mandated zoning setbacks.
6. What plan would you have to relieve traffic congestion and improve transportation in Malden?
Debbie DeMaria: Just a few ideas, totally untested: (1) flexible start times for all schools, (2) neighborhood schools, (3) continuing encourage of alternate modes of transportation; i.e. walking, public transportation, biking, and (4) revamping our parking program. After three previous failures prior to my council term, I believe this year the Parking Review Committee might have a winner! Being part of its inception and a member of this committee, we have tenaciously held four public meetings for our residents this summer, garnering positive results. This will be at NO cost to our residents who pay their excise tax in Malden. I believe the attrition of cars will be proof positive. I am also pleased with the Encore Casino bus transportation being utilized in Malden.
Jerry Leone: A study should be conducted with bus routes in the city to determine if certain areas are not serviced properly, synchronize the traffic lights on the main roads, and improve markings on cross walks and traffic lights.
Craig Spadafora: It would be hard to relieve traffic and congestion. Malden is the last stop on the Orange Line and is a transportation hub for all commuters to the North.
Stephen Winslow: I successfully advocated for the City to hire a transportation planner to work with our Traffic Commission, DPW, Engineering, and Police to assess the state of our roads and traffic signals. Based on those assessments, we can then begin to identify Federal, State and local resources to dedicate to transportation improvements. This will help put us in position to apply for new grants to support improvements to bus services, upgrade traffic signals and other efforts that support walking, transit use, and bicycling.
7. What percentage of units in new developments should be allocated to affordable housing?
Debbie DeMaria: I am so thrilled we are once again discussing inclusionary zoning. In 2017 both Councillor O’Malley and myself brought forth our proposed ordinance to the Planning Board. While it failed due to a lack of education among both the members of the PB as well as our Council, timing is everything. The needs in our community have taken us by storm ~ demanding affordability. With Malden being hugely desirable, many developers have beaten us to the punch by buying up property and charging outrageously high rent. The market has turned in their favor and NOT for our Malden residents, Clearly I support IZ! I believe we must stick to a minimum of 10 percent. The MRA’s proposal, under the direction of the mayor, at first glance, looks mindful and thorough and includes the needs of all. I look forward to a deep dive in Ordinance Committee on Sept. 16.
Jerry Leone: The city should tighten all restrictions and allow no more multi-unit rental housing to be built. Malden has more than 90 percent more subsidized housing units per square mile than any city which abuts ours, including Everett and Revere. [Malden has] over 2,000 more units than Melrose, which has far more land available. Our city schools have over 40 percent economically disadvantaged students. For this reason I do not support inclusionary zoning except for senior citizens who have been long-term residents. Our neighbors must fill the void. Malden has done its part and it is now overwhelming the city financially.
Craig Spadafora: Did not respond.
Stephen Winslow: A minimum of 15% of new developments with 10 or more units.
8. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) projects that Malden will see demand for an additional 3,852 units between 2018 and 2030.
Do you feel Malden should attempt to meet these projections? Otherwise what quantity of additional units should Malden plan to build for 2030?
Debbie DeMaria: Knowledge requires a comprehensive grasp and awareness. MAPC was commissioned to do this project for Malden. This is a guideline, plain and simple. We as a City should move forward cautiously and not attempt to set goals based on projections, but rather needs of our community. The previous 10-year trend of development filled the pockets of many. I will leave it up to the reader to question those ethics. I was on Council for six years, and these previous developments were NOT under my leadership. However, I did support the development of Jefferson Apartment Group (the new City Hall) and still believe that to be a brave new beginning for Malden. I did not support the purchase or development of the Masonic building. Nor did I support their tax exemption waiver or lack of (none) affordable living. I cannot imagine another 4,000 more residential units. Are you kidding me?
Jerry Leone: MAPC asked Malden to build 3,800 more housing units in the next decade. We are the most densely populated and built-out community north of Boston which is not adjacent to Boston. Winchester with far more land, money, and located on the commuter rail, was asked by MAPC to build a few hundred units. Malden should stop building housing except for single or two-family owner occupied homes as the citizens directed in the Moratorium Survey of 2017. It is time for real equity and those towns with low density like Winchester need to begin sharing in the challenge. Malden has more than done its part.
Craig Spadafora: Did not respond.
Stephen Winslow: Malden has been a community where working people can afford to purchase homes, rent apartments, raise their families, and comfortably age. I am committed to preserving that important aspect of Malden. As a result, we do need to have plans that identify areas in the city where the infrastructure exists or can readily be improved to meet the needs of development planned to add housing.
9. As an elected official, what is your philosophy: is it your responsibility to follow the will of the voters; or do what you think is best for the people?
Debbie DeMaria: Those who voted for me entrusted me with making decisions for them. Now, does that mean I do what I want to do? Absolutely NOT. As a city leader, my first priority is to the safety of our community. Every day I listen and learn from my constituents; those who voted for me and those who didn’t. Everyone has a job to do. My job, being a Councillor-At- Large in Malden, is something I am honored to do as I follow the will of the voters.
Jerry Leone: Councilors have a responsibility to the voters who are taxpayers and we should act in their best interest; at the same time councilors should make certain decisions to improve the quality of Malden.
Craig Spadafora: The idea that one is right and other party is wrong is the problem. Flexibility is about understanding the give-and-take aspects of politics, and the ability to find the common ground. Good leaders listen carefully to all sides, to not only hear their arguments but to especially learn what it will take on behalf of all parties involved to reach a consensus. It’s hard to believe in today’s world that “other side” be right. Leaderships allows political leaders to recognize setbacks and criticism, to learn from them and move forward. Many politicians still dismiss public opinion as mercurial or irrelevant or both.
Stephen Winslow: I take action based on the needs and expressed desires of residents, including those who may not be as vocal or connected. I certainly give the will of the voters great weight. The challenge becomes how to truly determine what the will of the voters is and to resolve contradictions between demands to provide more services and the desire to be fiscally prudent.
10. Who is your Campaign Committee?
Debbie DeMaria: Being blessed with many wonderful friends, my role as Councillor At Large is so rewarding. Some volunteers help me as I feed the hundreds of seniors in eight citywide locations. Together, many friends and I make thousands of calls, both during the summer and continuing through Nov. 5th. My dedicated team of volunteers love to wake up early and stay up late, hold signs, knock doors and host events. I am also honored to have three super champions that strategize with me daily. But above all, my husband, Al, is my Manager.
Jerry Leone: My committee is comprised of several individuals who feel that I can help the city succeed as councilor.
Craig Spadafora: Did not respond.
Stephen Winslow: My wife, Helen, chairs my Campaign Committee; Cynarra Canatella of Maynard Street in Ward 8 is my campaign treasurer and Ari Taylor of Mount Vernon Street in Ward 5 is my campaign manager.